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The subtext also contains more serious undertones of the real diseases which could be caught (and were extremely prevalent in the unrepressed atmosphere of the post-Restoration period) if the man did make one of the ‘lewd devils lie down’. Our poet decides that he will instead gain his pleasures in ‘friendship, freedom and wine’, and does so in a rollicking duet with the bass. Instead of worshipping the goddess of love, Venus, he will turn his attention to Bacchus, god of drink, forget the troubles of the world, and fill his glass.
from notes by Robert King © 2003